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Sustainable Development is an organizing principle for human life on a finite planet. It posits a desirable future state for human societies in which living conditions and resource-use meet human needs without undermining the sustainability of natural systems and the environment, so that future generations may also have their needs met.
Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social, political, and economic challenges faced by humanity.
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Scope & Importance
Sustainability science is the study of sustainable development and environmental science.
Healthy ecosystems and environments are necessary to the survival of humans and other organisms. Ways of reducing negative human impact are environmentally-friendly chemical engineering, environmental resources management and environmental protection. Information is gained from green chemistry, earth science, environmental science and conservation biology. Ecological economics studies the fields of academic research that aim to address human economies and natural ecosystems.
Moving towards sustainability is also a social challenge that entails international and national law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. As early as the 1970s, 'sustainability' was employed to describe an economy "in equilibrium with basic ecological support systems." Scientists in many fields have highlighted The Limits to Growth, and economists have presented alternatives, for example a 'steady state economy', to address concerns over the impacts of expanding human development on the planet. The term sustainable development rose to significance after it was used by the Brundtland Commission in its 1987 report Our Common Future. In the report, the commission coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014 provides a bird's-eye view of market and performance trends across 16 of the most prevalent standards initiatives operating across ten different commodity sectors. The Review represents one small effort toward strengthening our understanding of how voluntary sustainability standards are developing over time, both in terms of the systems they deploy and the market impacts that they have. It is hoped that the ensuing data and analysis, when read in conjunction with the growing body of field-level impact data, will allow supply chain decision-makers to strengthen their own strategic decision-making processes in ways that provide optimal sustainable development impact. The Global Initiative on Commodities (GIC) is an international partnership initiative launched by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; the African, Pacific and Caribbean Group; the Common Fund for Commodities; and the United Nations Development Programme designed to break the "conspiracy of silence" regarding the importance of commodities in sustainable development.
Relevant Society and Associations
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This page was last updated on January 21, 2020